Date of this version


Document Type



Corporate communications, Information media, Communication management, Management accountability, Social media tools, Two-way communication


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to take the results of two studies to hypothesize about practice and recommend research/debate on business leaders’ use and perceptions of social media. Data were considered under the umbrella of current senior management practice, with the purpose to make suggestions for better practice, but primarily to theorize about the probable evolution of social media value and credibility for executives.

Design/methodology/approach – The first study presents results from a qualitative content analysis of Fortune and Inc. 500 CEOs’ use of Twitter in terms of: activity and engagement; tweet subject matter; frequency of opinions expressed; and level of formality. The second considers the credibility of social media against traditional media and personal information sources within one quantitative survey.

Findings – Senior executives using social media (Twitter) tend to engage in one-sided conversations in a two-way medium. Further, most CEOs appear to be using more formal language than general Twitter users. These factors, combined with the low credibility and value of social media by senior managers, may indicate the best future hope for social media credibility with executives will be neutral.

Practical implications – In examining a combination of current literature and the data from these separate studies, the authors posit a number of underlying challenges in realizing the potential of the evolving social media environment that may deserve specific research.

Originality/value – Discussion touches on implications for future adoption of social media tools by business leaders, as well as one-way vs two-way communication tendencies. This paper proposes a starting-point for theory development regarding this significant emerging area of communication.

Published in

Journal of Communication Management

Citation/Other Information

19(3) 270-287

Included in

Marketing Commons